Local author, tech expert and cat rescuer, dies at 58


Calla Knopman, 58, an animal behaviorist and volunteer with Brenda's Cat Rescue (BCR), whose photos of rescued cats have appeared in the Local for two decades, died Aug. 4 of esophageal cancer, which takes the lives of about 200,000 people in the U.S. yearly.

Before she  began volunteering with BCR in February of 2019, Knopman had volunteered at other local shelters and rescues, “but as soon as I began working with BCR,” she told us at the time, “I saw the difference in how the cats and kittens are managed and treated. It’s not that any group loves and cares for the cats any less, but at BCR, each cat has a dedicated foster who is responsible for its mental, emotional and physical health as well as approving adoptions.”

According to Brenda Malinics, founder of BCR, “Calla helped socialize BCR feral kittens or semi-social cats in her own home, and she adopted one special kitten, Dottie, that captured her heart. Calla would treat BCR cats to the newest interactive toys, treats and anti-stress/adjustment techniques. She also offered her professional knowledge and made home visits, free of charge, to any BCR adopters. She will be missed greatly by humans and animals alike.”

In addition to her cat rescue volunteering, the Ambler resident had a full-time job as Associate Principal for the Hackett Group in Conshohocken, which provides digital transformation services to global companies. Calla also for a time ran her own IT consulting firm, Knopman IT Consulting, LLC.

Calla was a feline behavior specialist graduate of the accredited online school, Animal Behavior Institute, and author of the book, “Measure Your Cat's IQ: Tales from the Devilish Genius to the Feeble Minded Fuzzball,” which at one time was among the highest rated cat care books on Amazon, paperback or Kindle version. “I have gotten lots of very funny responses from readers,” she told us in late 2019.

Calla wrote another book, “Gabby the Detective,” a children’s picture book about kitten Gabby, who is very sad one day because she doesn’t know what she will be when she grows up “We consider all kinds of professions Gabby can consider,” Calla told us, “such as a firecat, a ballerinacat, a teachercat, a doctorcat and more, but none seems quite right until the decision that she will be a detectivecat.”

Regarding her cat behaviorist work, Calla said in an interview last year, “Answering one person’s problem can help many others. I interact with folks at the shelters, and often while shopping for myself at pet stores. I see people struggling to make a choice or staring for a long time at the supplements, so I ask if they need assistance. Other folks seem to get my email or Facebook access and request advice this way. I am always willing to volunteer a free behavior session for anyone who adopts a cat from BCR. If they insist on a fee, though, I ask that it be donated to one of the local shelters … I hope someday to retire and work full-time with cats, assuming I can pay off the mortgage first.”

When asked in mid-2020 how the pandemic had affected Calla's day job, she replied, “The type of work I do is required to keep companies operational, so a large percentage of client engagement continues with remote work. However, I have heard from many friends and peers in the industry of massive layoffs and furloughs.”

Calla was the daughter of Phyllis Meltzer and the late Alfred Knopman. She is also survived by brothers Martin and Ronald Knopman and a nephew, Jacob Knopman. Graveside services were held Thursday, Aug. 5, at Roosevelt Memorial Park in Trevose, Lower Bucks County.

Before the pandemic, Calla's mom, a senior citizen who was in the movies and a singer with big bands many years ago as well as the Philadelphia Lyric Opera company, spent much of her time at senior centers engaging the residents in song and dance. The senior center she was most active with is Abramson Senior Care Residence in North Wales.

Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com


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